Abstract

This study uses retrospective illness histories to investigate whether children’s health deteriorates after parental separation. Separation is associated with illness in a multivariate cross-sectional analysis as well as in an analysis of a sample of disrupted children only, in which illness rates before and after separation are compared. Three explanations are hypothesized: (1) divorce reduces the resources available to children, (2) the stress of divorce depletes children’s health, and (3) frailer children are selected into divorce. The first hypothesis has stronger support than the second, but the data are too poor for a rigorous test of either. The selection hypothesis is not supported.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.

References

Aday, L. A., Fleming, G. V., & Anderson, R. (
1984
).
Access to Medical Care in the U.S.: Who Has It, Who Doesn’t
.
Chicago
:
University of Chicago, Center for Health Administration Studies
Boyce, W. T., Jensen, E. W., Cassel, J. C., Collier, A. M., Smith, A. H., & Ramey, C. T. (
1977
).
Influence of Life Events and Family Routines on Childhood Respiratory Tract Illness
.
Pediatrics
,
60
,
609
620
Butler, J. S., Burkhauser, R. V., Mitchell, J. M., & Pincus, T. P. (
1987
).
Measurement Error in Self-Reported Health Variables
.
Review of Economics and Statistics
,
69
,
644
650
. 10.2307/1935959
Cafferata, G. L., & Kasper, J. S. (
1985
).
Family Structure and Children’s Use of Ambulatory Physician Services
.
Medical Care
,
23
,
350
360
. 10.1097/00005650-198504000-00007
Cashion, B. J. (
1982
).
Female-Headed Families: Effects on Children and Clinical Implications
.
Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy
,
8
,
77
85
. 10.1111/j.1752-0606.1982.tb01444.x
Davis, K., & Schoen, C. (
1978
).
Health and the War on Poverty
.
Washington, DC
:
Brookings Institution
Duncan, G. J., & Hoffman, S. D. (
1985
).
A Reconsideration of the Economic Consequences of Marital Dissolution
.
Demography
,
22
,
485
497
. 10.2307/2061584
Edwards, L. N., & Grossman, M. (
1982
).
Income and Race Differentials in Children’s Health in the Mid-1960s
.
Medical Care
,
20
,
915
930
. 10.1097/00005650-198209000-00005
Furstenberg, F. F., & Nord, C. W. (
1985
).
Parenting Apart: Patterns of Childrearing After Marital Disruption
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
47
,
893
901
. 10.2307/352332
Garfinkel, I., & McLanahan, S. (
1986
).
Single Mothers and Their Children
.
Washington, DC
:
Urban Institute
Glenn, N. D., & Supancic, M. (
1984
).
The Social and Demographic Correlates of Divorce and Separation in the United States: An Update and Reconsideration
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
46
,
563
575
. 10.2307/352598
Gortmaker, S. L. (
1981
).
Medicaid and the Health Care of Children in Poverty and Near Poverty
.
Medical Care
,
19
,
567
581
. 10.1097/00005650-198106000-00001
Gortmaker, S. L., Eckenrode, J., & Gore, S. (
1982
).
Stress and the Utilization of Health Services: A Time Series and Cross-Sectional Analysis
.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
,
23
,
25
38
. 10.2307/2136387
Grossman, M. (
1972
).
The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation
.
New York
:
Columbia University Press for the National Bureau of Economic Research
Guidibaldi, J., Perry, J. D., McLoughlin, C. S., & Cleminshaw, P. K. (
1983
).
The Impact of Parental Divorce on Children: Report of the Nationwide NASP Study
.
School Psychological Review
,
12
,
300
323
Haaga, J. (
1986
).
The Accuracy of Retrospective Data From the Malaysian Family Life Survey
.
Santa Monica, CA
:
RAND Corp
Kovar, M. G. (
1982
).
The Health Status of U.S. Children and the Use of Medical Care
.
PuWic Health Reports
,
97
,
3
15
Lefcowitz, M. J. (
1973
).
Poverty and Health: A Reexamination
.
Inquiry
,
10
,
3
13
Longfellow, C. (
1979
).
Divorce in Context: Its Impact on Children
. In Levinger, G., & Moles, O. C. (Eds.),
Divorce and Separation: Context, Causes and Consequences
(pp.
287
306
).
New York
:
Basic Books
Mare, R. J. (
1982
).
Socioeconomic Effects on Child Mortality in the United States
.
American Journal of Public Health
,
72
,
539
547
. 10.2105/AJPH.72.6.539
McLanahan, S. S. (
1985
).
Family Structure and the Reproduction of Poverty
.
American Journal of Sociology
,
90
,
873
901
. 10.1086/228148
McLanahan, S. S., & Bumpass, L. (
1988
).
Intergenerational Consequences of Family Disruption
.
American Journal of Sociology
,
94
,
130
152
. 10.1086/228954
Meyer, R., & Haggerty, R. (
1962
).
Streptococcal Infections in Families: Factors Altering Individual Susceptibility
.
Pediatrics
,
29
,
539
550
Newacheck, P. W., Butler, L. H., Harper, A. K., Piontkowski, D. L., & Franks, P. E. (
1980
).
Income and Illness
.
Medical Care
,
18
,
1165
1176
. 10.1097/00005650-198012000-00002
Peters, E. (
1988
).
Retrospective Versus Panel Data in Analyzing Life-Cycle Events
.
Journal of Human Resources
,
23
,
439
513
Roghmann, K. L., & Haggerty, R. J. (
1973
).
Daily Stress, Illness, and Use of Health Services in Young Families
.
Pediatric Research
,
7
,
520
526
. 10.1203/00006450-197305000-00005
Starfield, B., Katz, H., Gabriel, A., Livingston, G., Benson, P., Hankin, J., Horn, S., & Steinwachs, D. (
1984
).
Morbidity in Childhood—A Longitudinal View
.
New England Journal of Mediane
,
310
,
824
829
. 10.1056/NEJM198403293101305
Sulverta, M. B., & Swartz, K. (
1986
).
The Uninsured and Uncompensated Care: A Chartbook
.
Washington, DC
:
George Washington University, National Health Policy Forum
Wallerstein, J. S., & Blakeslee, S. (
1989
).
Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce
.
New York
:
Ticknor and Fields
Wallerstein, J. S., & Kelley, J. B. (
1980
).
Surviving the Breakup
.
New York
:
Basic Books
Weiss, R. S. (
1984
).
The Impact of Marital Dissolution on Income and Consumption in Single-Parent Households
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
46
,
115
127
. 10.2307/351870
Wolinsky, F. D. (
1982
).
Racial Differences in Illness Behavior
.
Journal of Community Health
,
8
,
87
101
. 10.1007/BF01326553